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Rising epidemic among Hispanic community

One of the largest growing health problems for Hispanics in the urban community is diabetes, and little or no health insurance for these working class families limits the ability for frequent medical check- ups and regular doctor visits.
Due to the high cost of medical care, a significant amount of the populace does not frequent the doctors offices because they don't feel sick.

"The mindset among particular Hispanics is, 'If I'm not sick, why should I go to the doctor?' " said Dr. Luis Leal, a physician of podiatric medicine in Edgewater.

However, making those annual visits could mean the difference between a minor procedure and major surgery, which in the case of diabetic foot ulcers can result in amputations.

Diabetic foot ulcers are a rapidly growing concern among the Hispanic community.

"As the people get older and more Hispanics immigrate to the States, we're discovering it more and more," said Leal.

Early warning signs

One of the early warnings of foot ulcers is so subtle that patients constantly overlook them.

"The biggest problem being that they start to lose sensation, so they really don't know anything is wrong," said Leal.

The numbing can get to a point where the patient would no longer feel pain or discomfort in the foot, such as a strain while jogging.

"It's a very gradual process. The foot just starts to go numb," said Leal.

Other symptoms include tingling to burning sensations on the feet.

In the worst case scenarios, if the foot ulcers are not treated in time, the wound can expose the bone to infection, which in turn can infect circulation. As a result, gangrene can set in and amputation would be necessary.

Fifteen percent of these cases end in amputations, but that can be prevented with screenings and early intervention.

Read more at: Weehawken reporter.com

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